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City officials are considering removing some service roads at the Woodlawn Cemetery to make room for more burial plots. (photo by Brandon Wise)

CITY HALL — Not only is the cost of living considered high in Santa Monica, but so will the afterlife.

A new rate schedule for interment at Woodlawn Cemetery will go before the City Council tonight for approval, raising fees in some cases to nearly six times that of current prices. The matter will be presented as part of the council’s consent agenda, which includes a more than $1.8 million spending package.

The proposed fee structure is part of Woodlawn’s new 30-year plan for the cemetery to achieve financial sustainability, calling for a new marketing strategy to reach out to residents and increasing rates to bring prices more in line with competing cemeteries in the area. The rates have not been reviewed in more than 15 years.

The cost for a grave will increase from a flat $5,683 to a price range between $9,000 and $14,000. A family estate, which currently does not have a price, will be set at $59,000 to $88,500. Cremation graves, which currently costs $861, will be priced between $3,000 to $4,500.

A single crypt, which today ranges from $5,552 to $10,002, will increase to $7,500 to $15,000.

The business plan also includes a 5 percent discount offer for residents and individuals who work in the city. The cemetery will also institute a financing plan for individuals to pay for their plots over a period of up to 60 months.

“The discount offer would likely increase local resident use of the cemetery as well as those who work here,” a staff report to the council said.

City Hall purchased the cemetery in 1897 and the mausoleum in 1972, both of which together have more than 60,000 former residents interred on the 26.6 acre site. There are less than 60 graves available for sale.

Woodlawn officials are expected to ask the council to convert certain streets on the cemetery grounds into burial space, providing for approximately 2,123 casket spaces and generating more revenue. Portions of Ivy Avenue, Rose Avenue and Myrtle Avenue will be vacated.

“Vacating portions of non-essential roadway within the cemetery is necessary for the development of additional interment grounds associated with the implementation of the cemetery business plan,” the staff report said.

New software for development projects

Applying for construction permits in City Hall is about to become more manageable.

The council will be asked to purchase a new web-based application that will allow applicants and city staff to access project information through a centralized online location, keeping track of which plans have been submitted, reviewed, checked and approved.

AVOLVE Software will be tapped to provide the ProjectDox application for $298,000. The contract will include the purchase and maintenance of the software.

The application will automatically send e-mails to developers when their plans have been approved or noted for correction and re-submittal. City staff will also be able to track comments from colleagues and compare different versions of projects submitted.

“ProjectDox provides an improved plan check process by enhancing communications among city staff and the public,” the city staff report said.

Also coming before the council will be a new five-year contract with Dell Marketing to provide Microsoft software licenses and upgrades for $1.3 million.

Cleaning runoff sewer diversions

Keeping the Santa Monica Bay clean also means keeping the sewer diversions and treatment systems for urban runoff clean.

The council is expected to approve a three-year, $300,000 contract with General Environmental Management to service sewer diversions for separating and treating urban runoff from the Montana, Wilshire, Santa Monica Pier and Pico Kenter drains. The treatment system at Mar Vista Park in Los Angeles is also included in the agreement.

“These units must be serviced and cleaned periodically to continue efficient operation,” the city staff report said.

City staff perform routine maintenance but the depth of some vaults exceed the reach of city equipment.

“Relieving city staff of this task will allow more attention to sewer and storm drain cleaning and maintenance,” the report said.

Parking for Courthouse

An agreement with the county of Los Angeles to lease approximately 325 spaces in the Civic Auditorium parking lot or structure will continue for another year, bringing in approximately $583,599.

City Hall has leased a portion of the parking lot to the county for the Santa Monica Courthouse since 1989, originally providing spaces for 450 cars and later trimming the number down to 325 when numerous services, including criminal cases, were transferred to other jurisdictions.

The current public daily parking rate is $8. The contract with the county will provide the spaces for $7.27 each.

melodyh@smdp.com